Lafayette sues opioid companies for addiction crisis

The city of Lafayette is suing ten opioid manufacturers and three distributors for their part in causing the opioid crisis in Tippecanoe County.

Posted: Dec. 22, 2017 11:01 AM
Updated: Dec. 22, 2017 6:32 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The city of Lafayette is suing ten opioid manufacturers and three distributors for their part in causing the opioid crisis in Tippecanoe County.

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The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana Lafayette Division on November 29, 2017, said addiction is ravaging Lafayette.

It goes on to cite statistics including 149 Tippecanoe County residents who died from an overdose from 2004 to 2013.

It says, “In 2012, there were 91 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents in Tippecanoe County. Last year, that number was reduced, but only to 71 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents.”

According to the complaint, non-fatal overdoses jumped nearly 75 percent from 2011-2015 in Tippecanoe County.

The lawsuit blames the manufacturers’ “deceptive marketing campaign,” and failure to identify, report, and stop suspicious orders of those medications.

It cites certain “distorted” articles or “corrupt scientific literature” sent out by the companies that understated the risks and overstated the benefits of using opioids. One article was titled, “Addiction is rare in patients treated with narcotics”.

It goes on to accuse the companies of discrediting or suppressing negative information about opioids.

The city of Lafayette filed six counts against the companies including Public Nuisance, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Negligence, Unjust Enrichment, and Damages Resulting from Civil Conspiracy.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski didn't take this decision lightly.

"Probably thought about it for a month, month and a half," said Roswarski.

People News 18 talked to on the streets of Lafayette Friday said they are happy with the city's decision.

"I think that is a great idea," said Nick Slayed. 

Kyle Tribbett said the subject hits close to home for him. "I have family members that have been involved with addiction," said Tribbett. "It started off with prescribed medicines and then it evolved into an addiction into harder drugs and then you know, that's a tough thing to deal with."

That's a common slippery slope in Tippecanoe County. One Roswarski feels Lafayette shouldn't have to pay for alone.

"Some of the people, some of the large pharmaceutical companies and distributors that helped play a role in creating the problem need to help solve the problem," said Roswarski.

"When you look at the amount of resources, the time, the money, the expense that there is for emergency services with police and fire, you know I think we do need to hold people accountable for that," said West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis.

So, will West Lafayette file a lawsuit too?

"Our legal team is looking at it," said Dennis. "They need to obviously make sure that there is no potential repercussions. All signs are that it's good and as I told you off camera if they ask me, we will go ahead and move forward with it."

Tribbett said the more the merrier. "

It's obviously a problem," said Tribbett. "It's on, it's in the national zeitgeist, it's on our minds, it's in our communities, so this is like the avenue we have to make a difference and like I said, that's excellent, everybody should get on board."

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